Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Lin’

State of the Lakers: The Youth Movement

January 27, 2015

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We started off the season with Laker Optimist hopes. We had a rising star in Julius Randle– the face of the future. We had seasoned veterans Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to lead. We had a gameplan implemented by coach Byron Scott to focus on defense. We added Jeremy Lin to bolster the backup point guard position. Swaggy P returned to provide scoring punch from the bench. I liked the Lakers to be a 6-8th seed and I was excited.

Then the season began. Then the injuries happened. Then the losses piled up. Lost Nash. Lost Randle.

We saw a team that couldn’t quite find a way to play defense. They have flashes of brilliance, but continued to falter in the 3rd and 4th quarters. There was a lot of Kobe watching at the beginning of the season and a whole bunch of Kobe shooting and scoring. We were losing, but Kobe was winning.

Byron made a lineup change in favor of defense. Booz and Lin go to the bench. They showed signs of improvement and then more injuries started to affect the team. The team, for whatever reason, still couldn’t get it going. More importantly, Kobe Bryant hit a wall. This wall caused inconsistency in lineup and rotation in order to preserve Kobe.

Inconsistency of lineup chemistry. Inability to fight over screens. Poor rotations. Inability to make shots in the 4th quarter. This team is the bad team that fights for 3 quarters and falls flat in the 4th. Sometimes this time starts flat and fights from behind for 3 quarters and then finally succcumbs in the 4th quarter.

So the Lakers are totally out of the playoff picture. Aside from a blockbuster trade involving a game changing point guard and a game changing center, or a complete turnaround by this team, things won’t get any better. This team has a defensive inconsistency that is only eclipsed by its inability to score at times. When they can’t defend, they can’t score and when they can score, they can’t defend. With this reality, including Kobe’s recent possibly season-ending injury, Coach Scott has gone to youth development.

I’m excited, I must say. The Lakers have a great recipe for future success. Jordan Clarkson’s poise, quickness and energy has made him easily one of my favorite rookies. Tarik Black’s defensive mind, Ed Davis’ shot blocking and paint shooting acurracy and Ryan Kelly’s shooting and ability to create off the dribble when given the opportunity present a bright future. Byron has gone with Clarkson, Ellington, Kelly, Hill and Sacre to start games. It’s important to start developing these guys as they figure out who will be added in the off-season to provide that competitive starting unit.

I haven’t given up! I’m the Laker’s Optimist! But I do see the writing on the wall. With the All-Star break around the corner, which is a great time to determine whether your team is a competitor, championship team, or bottom-feeder, we know what kind of team we are dealing with. Now we watch to scout players, see what works and what doesn’t, and see what improvements can be made towards the end of the year.

It’s a good time to see where some of these players fit in now and for the future. This includes Boozer and Lin. Lin is arguably the best PG on this team and has to at some point step up and prove it. Boozer has proven to be a very solid bench player as far as offensive production. I hope that after about 20 more games to give you another blog about this very topic.

So sit back, relax, get your popcorn and enjoy the glimpse into the future of the Purple and Gold.

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Byron Scott to Make Lakers Starting Lineup Changes: Who’s In, Who’s Out?

December 7, 2014

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Coach Byron Scott ponders lineup changes.

Newsflash. Lakers still stink. They show quick glimpses of hope by way of a few wins and then they go back to losing. They have dry spells, 3rd quarter lapses and 4th quarter meltdowns. They have minimal help for Kobe on offense, their defense creates layup lines, players look disinterested at times and Byron Scott has had enough.

So guys gotta sit the bench.

But is this going to work? It’s certainly worth a try. The Lakers for the first time in a couple years has had the benefit of starting lineup consistency and have squandered it. This lineup is bad, real bad– Michael Jackson (#kanye)!

Let’s look at it this way. If Byron is truly in harmony with Lakers management, which I think is true, players should take note when coach benches you. This should create an urgency to earn your minutes or be benched, waived or traded. This is important because the concern with benching players is this drops morale and can create friction and negative energy. Management needs to back the coach. Because this is necessary. They are losing bad! You’d hope players are on board with doing anything for the team.

So how should Byron do this? Who’s benched? I’m on the edge of my seat and here’s what I hope for.

Lin is NOT the starting point guard. Everyone has said it. He and Kobe cannot coexist. Mainly because Lin can’t be alpha dog mentality with Kobe. He won’t. That’s not his persona on a consistent basis. So chemistry suffers. Defensively, he’s still not quite there either. He’s not that dude. So somebody has to replace him. In pre-season Price and Kobe did well because Price simply set Kobe up. Price doesn’t feel pressure and didn’t seem to cave in to it. Upgrade? Not really but it also gives Lin an opportunity to run the offense in that second unit.

Carlos Boozer is NOT the starting power forward! Mainly this is a defensive issue. The fouls, the getting beat on defense, it’s becoming an issue. Maybe he’s not working well with Kobe either. Something is lacking though. He needs to join the bench mob. I love the Lin – Davis connection, so perhaps it’s time to put Sacre at center and move Hill to power forward. I also am for Davis starting too. This actually helps Kobe and Hill with Davis being the big man down low and Hill and Kobe with the mid-range game. Either move will help defensively. How Booz will take it? I don’t know but it’s necessary that he finally take a seat. (Wish Randle was here).

Wesley Johnson was given ultimate trust by Byron Scott and we didn’t see that new Wesley. Wesley Johnson is NOT the starting small forward. Purely for that inconsistent play. With Lin going to the bench, you can either have Lin and Young on the wings on that bench, or bring Young in as starting small forward. The Lakers need energy in the starting lineup AND consistency. Now Swaggy P has been known to falter a bit as a starter, so I’m on the fence about this. Kobe can also move to small forward to replace Johnson, inserting Ellington to the 2. No matter what Johnson is going to join the bench mob.

The only two guys guaranteed a starting position are Kobe Bryant and Jordan Hill. I’d be shocked and disappointed if I didn’t see 3 new guys alongside them.

I’m also not opposed to Byron developing his youth. Maybe we bring Roscoe Smith and Jordan Clarkson from the D-league and give them some minutes. Also, sign Earl Clark immediately as another small forward option.

Chemistry and wins also develop faster with better players. Lakers are mum about trades but I’m sure there’s something on the horizon. It’s not like Byron has a plethora of options to choose from. Overall they don’t have players that would ever really start on a championship contender. Grant it, any player can shine given the opportunity. This is what we have left to hope for in the case of our beloved Lakers, that somebody steps up.

With the Lakers being this horrible right now, there is still nowhere else to go but up. Let’s start with the starting lineup and see if Byron can at least find a competitive combination and go from there becase you just don’t get killed by the Boston Celtics!

Are the Lakers Truly Better Than Their Record?

November 29, 2014

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3-13. That’s the current record for the Lakers this season so far. It’s wise that the Lakers keep a positive outlook by seeing improvements in losses and saying things like they are better than their record.

But are they better than their record?

Bad teams spend a season getting blown out on some nights (Golden State) and showing some fight on others (Memphis, Clippers). After the close losses one starts to think, “well if they put forth that type of effort every night… ”

But it never happens with bad teams. It didn’t happen against the cellar-dwelling Minnesota Timberwolves last night. They can never seem to put together the closing effort good enough pull out victories rather than moral victories. Good teams play with the bad teams and win at the end because they are that good. Lakers fans know that because we’ve been on the other end of that.

We are now 16 games into the season with the season with the question being which team is this Lakers team?

In most cases you are your record. But Oklahoma City is not their record because of obvious injuries to their star players. Do the Lakers have any excuses why they are dismally 10 games below .500?

No. Not really.

Their starting five is healthy and has had ample opportunities to build chemistry.

Right now we are witnessing a team that cannot play defense. When they do, they can’t score. They can lead but can’t close out. They blow big leads because they lack killer instinct. They look…well…like a bad team.

Against Minnesota they gave up 120 points. Byron is mad. He said the team lacks focus. What can possibly take away your focus? What could be more capable of creating a sense of urgency and focus than being 9 games under .500? And they didn’t have it? So is it focus or talent??

I have to believe that they are better than their record, but at the same time that record isn’t a mistake. They kinda stink right now. Really bad. The question is can they turn it around?

So where’s the optimism? They have about 30 games to figure it out. By all-star break, the team you are is the team you are.

The Lakers haters and the Lakers lovers are both watching. Let’s see what happens.

The Redemption Season Begins for Lakers

October 28, 2014

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“….Flush it. Next season will be epic”
–Kobe Bryant on Twitter

Lakers fans endured a long summer watching other teams not named the Lakers compete for basketball royalty, waiting to see what happens to D’antoni, watching to see what pick we get in the lottery, watching to see who we pick, waiting to see our roster and watching to see who will usher in the new Laker era.

Now it begins. The redemption season.

Starring Kobe Bryant. Redemption for him is to be the dominant force he was before the season ending injuries. He wants to prove it to himself, but personally I want him to shut up the pundits and the haters. He has something to prove and nothing to prove all as once.

Also starring Jeremy Lin. Jeremy Lin has put LinSanity to rest in favor of Lintertaining. Redemption for Lin is returning to relevancy as a top tier point guard. In Houston they benched him for poor defense. Lin wants to show he is in fact a good defender. The opportunity is his for the taking.

Featuring Carlos Boozer. Much like Lin, Boozer was benched in Chicago for lack of defense. Boozer has been considered aging and on a downturn. Perhaps his redemption is to prove he is that spring chicken he claims to be. Byron’s given him that starting role to do that.

Add in Ed Davis who fought for minutes in Memphis, Julius Randle who should’ve gone earlier in the draft and Jordan Clarkson who should have gone in the first round.

The Lakers have always had their haters and this year the pundits are wasting countless articles on negative views and predictions. I know because I read them.

This year is will be different. Yes. Very different.

The pre-season saw a Laker team that really moved up the learning curve quickly. The team has begun to take on a defensive identity. Lin and Price are proven solid point guards that were missing for years. Ed Davis has proven himself to be a rim protector. Hill has been Hill. Kobe is back. Really. Randle is settling into the game.

The team is buying into Byron’s philosophy and taking on his personality.

This team will be dangerous even as they await the return of Nick Young, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly. Kobe and Lin’s ability to create their own shot will create problems for defenses. Boozer and Hill will create havoc on the glass. Davis off the bench will patrol the paint and Price will provide a tenacious 2nd unit defensively. Randle will grow to be a confident offensive threat.

The Lakers will have to maintain as much familiarity within their rotations. Chemistry is huge. They have to minimize defensive breakdowns and really consistently contest shots, create havoc and muddy up the game.

Every game is a statement game. This first one is no different. I don’t believe Kobe has to run this offense. Kobe doesn’t believe that either. This is a team game and expect that this season. Expect team defense. And I expect them to win a bunch of games, starting tonight.

Lakers play Houston tonight at 7:30. Let’s see how the Scott-Bryant era begins.

Lakers Upgrades to Look For

October 6, 2014

Contrary to what the pundits have said, the Lakers have serious upgrades from last year which promises a significant turnaround from last year– a playoffs type of turnaround. And here’s why:

Byron Scott. The coaching change is already paying dividends simply in the changed culture of the team. D’antoni was very much an more passive coach, who never seemed really sure of himself. Pau Gasol many times complained of discipline lacking. This team needed something very different for a place like L.A. and a team like the Lakers. The conditioning and defense-first approach will affect the personnel that takes the court first and foremost. Whether or not they are a team of defensive specialists, they will put forth efforts, implement defensive schemes and play defense by committee. Just watching practices and interviews point a new attitude and a changing culture. Look for that to translate onto the court.

Byron Scott as an analyst noticed time and time again how players like Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill were not used where they could be successful. Wes guarded power forwards and stayed around three point line. Hill saw fluctuation in playing time in favor of a stretch four. Bigs just were not used correctly. D’antoni force-fed run and gun offense on a team that needed to feed the ball down low to control tempo and keep teams from easy transition buckets. Expect the change in offense to put players in a position to be successful, decrease transition and increase paint points. Not as exciting as D’antoni but wins are much more fun.

The Return of Kobe and Nash. Funny how those words mean nothing to the pundits. There will be a huge increase in offensive production as well as more control of tempo. These guys are a step slower but there’s no doubt that this is a major upgrade.

Point Guard Position. The point guard position got much younger and faster. Jeremy Lin is not far removed from Linsanity. He brings an ability to create his own shot, get to the basket quickly and create shots for others. Nash will start but Lin will see plenty of minutes. The Lakers also managed to nab Ronnie Price and Jordan Clarkson who will both add more depth at that position and back up Nash. Needless to say, there is less likely of a chance for blow-bys on the perimeter with these younger, quicker point guard additions.

With the loss of Gasol, Lakers still managed to shore up the power forward/center position with future star Julius Randle, all-star forward Carlos Boozer and newly added Ed Davis. Scoring may have dipped but rebounding and paint protection took a major upgrade. Rob Sacre also can provide an effective 7-footer in spurts.

Look for a more controlled, organized, defensive-minded team that can rebound effectively. Look for a priceless mentorship from Nash, Kobe and Boozer that will show up on the court. Goran Dragic was a product of being under the tutelage of Steve Nash. Look for less transition by the other teams and increased post play.

Finally, look for a stunned panel of naysayers who placed the Lakers in the nba cellar. The Lakers Optimist said so.

Lakers Will Take a Page from Poppovich’s Book This Season

September 14, 2014

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Lakers coach Byron Scott is getting close to penciling in his starting 5. He has hinted that Kobe and Nash would be starting backcourt, Boozer and Hill in the frontcourt and maybe Wesley Johnson at small forward.

Then we heard that Nash may not be starting. Then we heard, and this makes the most sense, that the starters would be confirmed after training camp.

Everybody expressed their discontent with Byron’s decision to choose veterans over youth to start games. They complain that players won’t be able to develop coming off the bench, namely Randle, Lin and Clarkson.

On a smaller level, we have the potential for a Spurs type of rotation, where the starters, namely the vets will be relied upon to start the game and to finish games and the bench will indeed receive the bulk of the minutes to keep Kobe, Nash and even Boozer fresh throughout the season. This is perhaps why they loaded up on power forwards, guards and point guards.

So it really doesn’t matter if the veterans start. Jeremy Lin and Julius Randle will get plenty of minutes to develop. More importantly, the Lakers bench will get the opportunity to become that benchmob that we saw last year before they were decimated with injuries.

I expect to see Nash play only 25 minutes maximum, giving Lin the bulk of minutes. Clarkson should be seen in spurts. An increase in Clarkson minutes should only come if he earns it, not because of last resort. Kobe will also see 30-35 minutes tops in favor of Nick Young taking the bulk of those minutes. Lastly, Randle will also be seeing valuable minutes backing up Boozer.

Lakers possess a young athletic group that will be called on to support the veterans throughout much of the season. Whether or not they can do it is going to be huge.

Do we have the talent to accomplish this? The jury is out on that. But I’m The Lakers Optimist so I expect greatness. Stay tuned. Pre-season begins October 6th against Denver Nuggets.

Let’s see who starts.

Question Marks For Lakers This Season – My Answer is Yes!

August 23, 2014

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Lakers will shock people this year

The Lakers are expected by everybody to stink again! This is a view held by both Lakers fans and Lakers NOTfans. The question is why. If I may be so cryptic, question is the answer.

QUESTIONS. There are questions about almost every aspect of the Lakers team, and because there are no answers until about 10 games into the season perhaps (maybe even all-star break) many are either being pessimistic in true Lakerhaters form or cautiously pessimistic to protect themselves from disappointment.

But forget all that! I’m the Lakers Optimist! So I’m going to answer your questions the only way I know how.

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Kobe will be Vino this year

1. Kobe: Will he be Kobe? Yes. Kobe will be extremely effective, adjusting his game to be a very dominant post player. Look, Kobe hasn’t played but 6 games last year. The last thing anybody wants is a rested and justifiably vengeful Black Mamba. He will motivate his team, shoot when he needs to, command double teams and effectively pass out of them, creating open looks and highlight reels for the other rim-attacking teammates.

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Nash will finish his career strong

2. Nash: Will Nash be useful? Yes. Nash will finish his illustrious career strong mostly in a catch and shoot role. The nerve irritation is an afterthought and he is ready to contribute to this team in 25 minute bursts whether starting or coming off the bench. I expect Lin to be the main man, but in Byron’s offense, both guards are ball handlers. Needless to say, Nash will be Vino Blanco (did i say that right?)

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Byron Scott poised to lead Lakers

3. Byron: Can he be the guy? Yes. The two important factors for a successful coach is making players buy in and making your stars buy in. A great resume and experience are what contribute to that. Byron Scott is a Laker great so he’s invested. He has three championships so he knows how to get em. He has won coach of the year, working with Chris Paul. He took Jason Kidd and the Nets to two straight Eastern Conference titles. Lastly, he played with and mentored Kobe is his rookie year. I fully expect players to listen to and respect B. Scott from Kobe on down. I expect Byron to lead players like Wesley Johnson and Jeremy Lin to extremely successful seasons. Bear in mind that he saw this team all last year as an analyst for TWCSportsnet. Byron Scott is not only the guy for now. He’s the guy for later and the guy to bring Lakers back to where they belong. So I’m saying he’ll pick up where Phil left off.

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Rookie of the year?

4. Julius: Is he the future? Yes! Julius Randle is going to ease into valuable minutes with this team, creating a tenacious scorer and rebounder. I expect him to make a strong case for rookie of the year. According to Byron, you might see him play alongside Boozer for a formidable frontcourt. Boozer, Hill, Randle? Uhoh!

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Chicago's loss is L.A.'s gain

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LinSanity returns to Cali

5. Boozer/Lin: Will they shine in L.A.? Yes! I find it downright disrespectful that the media didn’t see what valuable pickups Mitch made, simply because they weren’t LeBron or Carmelo (By the way guys it’s getting old. Leggo). Boozer’s numbers dipped because he saw a heavy decrease in minutes in favor of Taj Gibson. The same happened with Lin in favor of Patrick Beverly. These guys are bonafide stars when given the responsibility. Look for both to play with a chip on their shoulder. Boozer is still a super solid low post threat with a sound mid range game, plus a beast on the glass. I remember what he’s done to my Lakers in the past. Lin is a true point guard who gets to basket with ease, has a solid jumper and can create great looks for oh… I don’t know…Kobe? These were no chop liver pickups and the league will learn soon.

6. Defense: Will they play better defense? Yes! First and foremost there’s nowhere else to go but up from D’antoni. (Don’t say a word about Cleveland because their roster was not good post-LeBron when Byron took over.) Byron’s first order of business will be defensive sets! That is music to my ears. This team will have to buy into his philosophy and they will, to stay on the floor. They have pitbulls on the glass in Boozer, Randle, Hill and even Wesley Johnson so they’ll finish the job of stopping the opponent and securing the rebound. I expect solid defense and rebounding to be their identity.

This list doesn’t include the fact that Nick Young will continue to be a great scoring threat with Xavier Henry. This doesn’t include the expectation that Ryan Kelly will crush the softmore slump. This doesn’t include my expectation for Jordan Hill to have a monster year as starting center.

Any team playing the Lakers will learn that this team is pesky on defense. They will be attacking the basket and killing the post. They will be in the top 5 in rebounds. They will play smash-mouth 80s style basketball with a 2014 flair (you like that, huh?).

With these questions answered, they will make the playoffs and from there, it’s 16 games to glory and who knows?

So don’t listen to Charles Barkley, please! Listen to The Lakers Optimist.

Go Lakers!

The Lakers Optimist? A Positive View on the 2014-2015 Lakers Season…For Once

July 20, 2014

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2013-2014 Lakers Roster

I guess I could safely be considered the Lakers optimist. I’ve been called delusional, I’ve been laughed at for my overly positive views on my team. I’ll accept it. My outlook is always based on facts. I’m a fan who saw the Lakers beat the Celtics on that famous sky hook by Magic. I rooted for my team when Magic retired and Sedale ran the point. I’ve seen Smush and company struggle and I’m still here screaming for purple and gold.

And I for one am not going to sit here and doom my team before 2014-2015 even has its first tip off!

Let’s take a brief painful glimpse of what went down last year…or rather WHO went down. It was the worst ever.

Like Kobe said, FLUSH IT

But before we flush it, let’s examine what went wrong.

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Injuries. Injuries of this magnitude was unexpected and blindsided everyone. The result was d-League players starting and no sense of chemistry because lineups changed every night. No team in the league could have survived this type of bad luck. Foolishly, I’ve heard people say they would not have done any better healthy… That is illogical. Seriously, because we’re didn’t have the luxury of seeing that.

Poor Coaching. Sorry D’antoni! I really was rooting for you, but here’s the issue. Even with all the injuries, the constant was Pau, Hill and Kaman. We saw a successful peek in pre-season of the Gasol-Kaman effect and refused to use it! They were healthy 80% of the season. He stubbornly refused to play to his strengths and could not find a way to utilize two all-star big men within his run and gun offense. This outweighs the glaring fact that his team could NOT play defense, but also made that an even bigger issue. But it’s hard to play defense when you’re playing 40 plus minutes of run and gun shorthanded. Slowing things down would have played in your favor, got your bigs involved and saved energy. His failure to adjust and ridiculously inconsistent rotations, even with injuries was another factor.

No Kobe. Yeah! Just like Miami without LeBron, Thunder without Durant, etc. Do you really think that didn’t play a part in such a dismal season???

So here we are with a brand new season. Adjustments have been made.

D’antoni is gone. Upgrade.

Whoever coaches now will hopefully institute a traditional offense and be more flexible to adjust to their talent.

They tried to strike oil with bringing in a superstar and it didn’t happen, but nice try.

Are we dead? The team that won it all last year didn’t have LeBron or Carmelo. Besides, we have Kobe.

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High expectations for Julius Randle

Lakers brought back the gems from last year like Hill, Xavier, Swaggy P, Ryan Kelly and Wesley Johnson. They picked up Julius Randle in the draft as a possible future star big man. They addressed the PG issue with newbie Jordan Clarkson.

They nabbed solid players in Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer. They added a young 6’10 250lb big in Ed Davis.

But we don’t have a superstar so we came up empty right?

That is stupid.

The Lakers even without a coach, but not for long, have established an identity. They’ve created a powerful, tough, paint dwelling front line. They’ve addressed the rebounding issue that killed them all last year. They’ve picked up guys like Lin, Henry, Boozer and Clarkson that love to attack the rim. Opponents will be working hard against this team every night, if healthy.

This is not going to be the pushover jumpshooting team from last year. Even Wesley Johnson I expect to be used the right way. Post him up. Make him attack and make him play defense.

There’s not going to be any tall dudes jacking up threes.

We have an if party going on though. These things can take place if:

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Byron Scott is front-runner for head coach

Byron Scott, or any coach with skills to rotate and utilize guys correctly, becomes coach.

Kobe is some remnant of Kobe, but realizes he is not the same Kobe. Kobe has to be there and teach, mentor and lead.

We stay HEALTHY. Healthy teams develope lineup consistency, which develops rotation consistency, which leads to chemistry. HUGE.

I’ve grown tired of hearing the beat writers naysay, the haters laugh and the spoiled fans cry and complain.

Look at the facts.

The game hasn’t started yet.

The Lakers are much better than last year already.

Kobe will be back.

You can bet they hear the haters talking.

Remember, a team on paper is different than a team on the court. The year they went to the finals nobody expected much from Kobe, Bynum, Odom and company. Of course Bynum went down and we eventually got Gasol. But nobody expected them to jump out to 26 wins so fast.

Stars are important, but there is a league full of talented and hungry players who deserve to be acknowledged.

Welcome to L.A., Lin and Boozer. You are now a part of the most loved and hated franchise in sports.

Time to prove em wrong.

I have a guarded optimism for my team.

But don’t mind me. I’m just a Lakers optimist.

Let’s get it!!